Opening the Box of Infinite Gifts
Aided by messages from Spiritualist mediums, the story of “Opening the Box of Infinite Gifts” unfolds from a dream image into an exploration of the 8th Spiritual Faculty of Being: Simplicity, Virtue and Alertness, as taught by the Reverend Florence Becker, a founder of the Golden Gate Spiritualist Church in San Francisco.
The polarity-balancing effects of Simplicity, Virtue and Alertness attune us to the essence of our traditional midwinter celebration—bringing joy to lift the spirits of those we know and love. This season calls on us to raise our awareness beyond our isolated individual self to touch into the wisdom, goodness and love of the Infinite. We learn to do this gradually, by applying Natural Law in stages of development. The process itself is a gift—for each of us to open in our own time.
One September, the following dream came to me as clear as ordinary reality:
In the dream, I inherit a beautiful old mansion. By recalling my childhood in the house, I know exactly where to find and open a hidden compartment in the office desk. Within, I find four special keys. I’m led to a large box with a lid locked on four sides. I open the first lock by matching a positive with a positive key, then wait as my spirit helper opens the opposite lock by matching a receptive with a receptive key. After study, I open the third lock by applying a key reading “thoughtful” to a lock marked “forgetful”, the positive unlocking the negative. I wake up anticipating the opening of the last lock.
This dream stayed with me. What was the significance of the four “keys”? What was in the box? I prayed for insight.
Early the following September, a medium in my development circle brought me the image of a gift package done up in brightly colored patterned paper and ribbon “waiting to be opened.”
A few days later, almost a year to the day after dreaming about unlocking the first three sides of the lid, I woke up knowing I’d finally opened the box. With my inner eye I saw the large square container with a profusion of rays of white light streaming out of the open top. No forms were visible inside. With this came awareness of the universe as an eternal dance between the positive and negative. In the physical world, we know positive creation as the “good” side, while in the spiritual world, a receptive “listening” for the idea of God is the “good” side.
With a sense of wonder, I checked my notes on the Reverend Florence Becker’s lectures for greater understanding. She spoke of building “soul substance” which she referred to as our “home in God,” and says,
If this flow of life and substance is unobstructed, it shines out everywhere . . . for the breath of life, when found to be the rhythm of your universe, enriches and enhances not only your world, but that of your neighbor, for the Infinite within constantly seeks its level—not fame or fortune, but simplicity and sincerity.
This turned my attention to the Faculty of Simplicity, Virtue and Alertness, which “keeps the Equality of Nature or Polarity of Being in Balance.” Even though I didn’t understand it, concentration on the idea of Simplicity lifted my spirits.
In October, still puzzling over how the fourth lock was opened, I attended our national Spiritualist convention in Alexandria, Virginia. At a workshop encouraging a renewal of interest in producing physical phenomena, I moved into a heightened state of attention as I heard our NSAC Secretary, the Reverend Sharon Snowman, speak of polarity as a current of electro-magnetic force, positive on earth and negative, or receptive in spirit. “We stand in the center of the flow,” she said, telling us we can learn how to stay in that stream, adjusting to “make things happen” by moving more toward the one side or the other—and that our spirit helpers are also learning to “stay in that stream—we’re standing there together.”
The Reverend Florence Becker agreed, “nature and spirit are two aspects of one eternal truth—not opposed to each other.” A study of her lessons suggests that the flow of Spirit manifests itself through Nature by transforming physical and mental energy into “Power and Spiritual Substance.” She stated, “A prayer is an aspiration from your soul to the Oversoul, where Spiritual Substance, or the Formless, becomes formed. And she described the Faculty which unites Simplicity, Virtue, and Alertness as: “a state of mind where truth/manifest meets creation/unmanifest” and it “operates with both force and intelligence”, bringing the law of creation [the finite, brain] and the law of life [the infinite, soul] together.”
This Faculty builds communion with spirit—on a foundation of Simplicity, on our aspiration toward Virtue, and on our demonstrated Alertness.
Since Virtue is an inseparable aspect of the Faculty, the eternal dance of polarity includes not only activity or receptivity, but also some concept of moral goodness or evil to which we need to be alert.
Three people I’ve known, misunderstanding these spiritual laws, attempted to pressure spirit into giving them special favors. Two were finally able to get back on their spiritual path, the third unhappily spiraled down into increasing fear and greed. Certain that the mysterious “fourth key” of my dream in some way related to this, I applied myself in earnest to comprehend the meaning.
I looked up Simplicity, Virtue and Alertness:
Simplicity is a state of being which is single, rather than compounded; and is described as sincere, artless and free from duplicity, cunning or affectation.
Virtue is from a Latin word meaning worth; it indicates moral goodness; right action and thinking; any good quality, merit, or accomplishment; also efficacy, as the ability to heal or strengthen.
Alertness means nimbleness, watchfulness, vigilance, readiness and moving with promptness.
The Reverend Florence Becker commented, “to perceive the meaning [of Simplicity] one becomes a child;”
I came to see the first key and lock on the box as representing the Simplicity of positive thought and action in the positive (manifest) world, ++, the first step in our spiritual development, balanced by:
The second key and lock, representing the Virtue of receptivity in the receptive world of spirit, - -, the second step in the development of our true self.
The third key and lock could represent Alertness in overcoming a negative in the created world with a positive, - +, the third developmental stage of applying spiritual principles.
Would solving the mystery of the fourth key and lock provide guidance for the remaining combination, + -, the use of positive energy in the receptive spiritual world?
The week after convention, a second dream, short but powerful, provided the understanding I was seeking. In the dream:
I observe a man stocking a large rectangular indoor tank with beautiful orange and white fish, each one different. When one particular fish is put into the tank, it eats another fish as soon as the man’s back is turned. This one fish continues to systematically eat the others whenever the man turns away to get another fish. I watch in horror as most of the fish disappear, one after another.
To me, the dream graphically demonstrates how the potential gifts of spirit, represented by the various fish in the tank, are swallowed up by the all-consuming ego if we allow it to enter the spirit world. The ego, our vehicle for positive expression in the outer world, has no business in the spirit world, and would destroy the beauty and interplay of the abundant gifts available to us from the Infinite.
The Reverend Florence Becker said the Faculty of Simplicity, Virtue and Alertness, “brings a rate of vibration in which the Spiritual Substance flowing through the channel [of the open mind] disintegrates any symptoms of thought waves brought into action through the common conscious level of mind.”
She stated, “the Law of Polarity frees you from Personality – you have gone beyond it in consciousness and meet Reality,” and this permits “Divine Law or Infinite Intelligence to flow into your consciousness.”
Continuing to contemplate Simplicity, Virtue and Alertness, I noticed that what I used to think of as extreme sensitivity now seems coarse and heavy-handed, and all previous efforts to educate my ego seem insufficient. As the Reverend Miriam Bostwick advised in her book, More on the Conquering Soul:
“It is our constant duty to separate truth (our soul) from the vehicle (our personality) and to ever remember that our soul is in charge.”
We’re free, even encouraged, to clearly express our wishes. Yet we know that the limited mind cannot conceive of the limitless possibilities of the yet-to-be-made-known truth. Use of one’s “positive” personal desire to limit or control a spiritual outcome is, in the limitless spirit world, as far from truth as negative behavior in the manifest world.
My study of the Reverend Florence Becker’s lessons suggests that the flow of Spirit manifests itself through Nature by transforming physical and mental energy into “Power and Spiritual Substance.” She stated, “A prayer is an aspiration from your soul to the Oversoul, where spiritual substance, or the formless, becomes formed.”
Consider these words from the Reverend Miriam Bostwick:
To accept something different is to go beyond the self, and to go beyond the self, is to go to God. Whenever we accept anything that is beyond the dictate and judgment of the self, in that moment we have accepted God.
I believe the fourth key to opening the Box of Infinite Gifts is to unite with spiritual truth by raising our awareness beyond the dictate and judgment of the self to the “flow” of that meeting of the two worlds described by the Reverend Sharon Snowman.
Yet getting into the “holiday mood” can be especially difficult if we’re carrying feelings of sorrow or antipathy which raise concerns, or even dread. According to the Reverend Miriam Bostwick, “When we are in concern regarding the outcome of any action or situation, it reveals that we truly have not given it to God.”
She taught, “the sense functions which the personality expresses are really undeveloped or immature soul faculties, such as fear, hatred, self-pity, jealousy, judgment, retaliation and the like.” She counseled us, “never to annihilate the sense functions for they serve a good purpose, if wisely directed. The key is to balance the energies of the functions with the faculties, or to turn functions into faculties; such as turning temper or stubbornness into determination . . . or hatred into love.”
To encourage this process of opening to spirit, there’s a simple breathing exercise the Reverend Florence Becker recommended to purify the mind and raise one’s vibration:
Inhale to the count of seven through the nostrils; Hold the breath while you repeat this powerful affirmation: “I Am part of the Rhythm and Harmony of the Universe;” Exhale through the nostrils to the same count of seven; Repeat seven times.
Whether you’re approaching the holiday season with dismay or unbounded excitement, as you seek to express the right words of cheer and find appropriate gifts to offer, keep in mind the Reverend Miriam Bostwick’s observation:
“The frequency with which things work out well reveals how much effort we have made to remove the thought of self from our activities.”
The four keys to “Opening the Box of Infinite Gifts” are:
May your holidays be joyous. Let me leave you with these words from the Reverend Miriam Bostwick:
“When you put God or goodness in your thought, you are turning a key in the door of understanding. As it enters there is a restoration of goodness, abundance, and joy in your life. It does take some degree of conscious awareness and effort but benefits are beyond description.”